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In Quentin Tarantino's 'Death Proof,' Austin's hottest DJ, Jungle Julia, sets out into the night to unwind with her two friends Shanna and Arlene. Covertly tracking their moves is Stuntman Mike, a scarred rebel leering from behind the wheel of his muscle car, revving just feet away.
For more about Death Proof and the Death Proof Blu-ray release, see the Death Proof Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on December 11, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Director: Quentin Tarantino
» See full cast & crew
Death Proof Blu-ray Review
Tarantino's homage to 70s car chase films comes to Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, December 11, 2008
When Directors and best friends Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up in 2007 to spoof their favorite low-budget action flicks in Grindhouse, little did they know that the project would become something of a pariah with audiences. The original concept was meant to combine separate directorial efforts, Planet Terror from Rodriguez and Death Proof from Tarantino, along with a slew of fake trailers from other directors, and to deliver a unique experience to film lovers everywhere. Unfortunately, the project was greeted by audiences with ambivalence, trashed by critics and the film ultimately floundered at the box office. Months were spent speculating on the reasons for the massive failure of Grindhouse. Pundits weighed in with their opinions and even Harvey Weinstein opined that the two films should have never been released on the same bill. The films were released separately in Europe and now, on Blu-ray. Death Proof is the second film from the project . Director Quentin Tarantino's love of dialogue and old car chase movies is on display here, in a vastly different film from the ultra-violent Planet Terror. While Death Proof might start off a little on the slow side, it definitely goes out with a bang.
Death Proof tells the strange tale of Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a likable fellow with a creepy black Dodge Challenger, who we eventually meet through a convoluted series of scenes that eventually lead a group of partying girls to a bar in Austin, Texas. Along the way, Tarantino treats viewers to a driving tour of some of Austin's famous bars and theaters - - it's Tarantino's own homage to one of his favorite places. As the film plods along, it's easy to mistake the events taking place as Tarantino falling too deeply in love with his own dialogue. However, by slowly developing his characters and allowing the story to take its time, Tarantino builds a palpable level of fear and tension in the audience. We all know that something is going to happen… buy when and what? At any rate, Stuntman Mike isn't quite the nice guy he makes himself out to be and it soon becomes clear that he has nefarious plans for the wayward group of drunken revelers he encounters at the bar. Death Proof is told in two sections. The first examines Stuntman Mike's activities in Austin, while the second takes place some time later in rural setting. It's in this second passage that Tarantino really delivers. Here, we follow yet another group of women (Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) being stalked by Stuntman Mike. This second pack of alpha females is a bit different, though, as they might just be more than Stuntman Mike can handle. Suffice it to say, I won't reveal how either segment of the film ends, but Tarantino has devised a film that pays off with tremendous car chase sequences and a fantastically satisfying finale.
Despite the many positives to Death Proof, this is far from Tarantino's finest film. As I mentioned before, the movie can try one's patience with its slow plot and seemingly pointless narrative. While Death Proof eventually pays off, I'm afraid that many movie fans might lose patience before the film ever arrives at its conclusion. It's for this reason that I ask viewers to stick with the film and to consider the way that Tarantino masterfully manipulates the audience and lulls viewers into a false sense of where the film is actually going. It's really very impressive and I hope that viewers won't consider the film a letdown after the bravura action escapades of Planet Terror. Regardless, Death Proof is a fantastic throwback to films such as Vanishing Point and the original Gone in 60 Seconds. Fans of seventies grindhouse and explotation films as well as Tarantino's masterful dialogue will be quite pleased.
Death Proof Blu-ray, Video Quality
Much like the Blu-ray edition of Planet Terror, Death Proof arrives on everyone's favorite format sporting an AVC Mpeg-4 encoded 1080p transfer with all the warts intended to make the film look well aged. Although the picture isn't quite as purposely shredded as Planet Terror , Death Proof is still rife with heavy artificial grain, scratches and the general appearance that it was shot on the cheapest seventies film stock imaginable. This causes the picture to often look washed out and overexposed. Black levels can be quite deep and satisfying, but are generally washed out. The film is occasionally blurry and often overly sharp. Of course this is all intentional and there really isn't much to say about Death Proof other than that it looks precisely as it should.
Death Proof Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Death Proof, much like Planet Terror features an outstanding Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack that sways effortlessly between long passages of dialogue and rollicking action sequences. While not nearly as aggressive as Planet Terror, the film has more of a natural feel with subtle wind effects and well placed music. I was particular impressed with the final sequence featuring dueling muscle cars, as all the squeals and thunderous engine noises are fantastically reproduced to heart-pounding satisfaction. Obviously, dialogue is of prime importance in any Tarantino film, and this TrueHD track effortlessly presents all dialogue in a crystal clear manner that is never difficult to discern. Death Proof isn't going to blow the roof off of your house like Planet Terror, but then again, it isn't supposed to.
Death Proof Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Death Proof arrives on Blu-ray sporting a laundry list of supplemental features. Here's what's included:
-"Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof"
-Introducing Zoe Bell
-Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
-Finding Quentin's Gals
-The Uncut Version of "Baby It's You"
-The Guys of Death Proof
-Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke
-Double Dare Trailer
I found the supplements to Death Proof to be a little less inviting than those of Planet Terror. If you crave detailed behind the scenes featurettes focusing on casting, actors and the editing process, then you'll be quite pleased with what Death Proof has to offer. Otherwise, a lot of what's included here amounts to EPK material. As to why none of the fantastic faux movie trailers weren't included is anyone's guess. It's a big letdown and the film suffers from not including this essential part of the Grindhouse experience.
Death Proof Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Death Proof arrives on Blu-ray carrying a large amount of baggage. It was unfairly labeled as not being the equal to Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror and has since suffered the fate of being referenced as a weak entry into Quentin Tarantino's outstanding body of work. The film is certainly a departure from the heavy camp of the rest of the Grindhouse project, as it focuses more on character and tension over gore and uncomfortable laughs. Regardless, it is a fine example of Tarantino's ability to tell a story that references genres of the past while branding the work with his own unique signature. The film's video is presented as designed with an emphasis of making the movie appear to be aged and poorly shot, while the audio does a fantastic job of building the intensity of the film. Supplements are a bit boring and the lack of any original Grindhouse trailers being included is a true shame. Despite all of this, when taken as a whole, Death Proof and Planet Terror make for a fantastically entertaining evening of movie-watching fun. Recommended!
Blu-ray bundles with Death Proof (1 bundle)
Death Proof Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 16th - December 16, 2008
Since the days of Laserdisc, the Criterion Collection has dedicated their efforts to collecting the greatest classic and contemporary films from around the world, and make them available to the general public at the highest quality possible. Today, they release ...
• Death Proof Coming to Blu-ray; Planet Terror Too (Updated) - September 24, 2008
In an early announcement to retailers, The Weinstein Company has revealed that they will bring 'Death Proof' and its Grindhouse partner 'Planet Terror' to Blu-ray on December 16th. As this is an unofficially announcement, no technical specs or special features ...
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